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Friday, 20 March 2009

Oscar "Taz" Fuentes, 28, of Huntington Station, and Julio Chavez, 23, of Huntington charged

09:18 |

Oscar "Taz" Fuentes, 28, of Huntington Station, and Julio Chavez, 23, of Huntington, killed Maurice Parker, 21, in a random drive-by shooting in front of a Flushing storefront on May 18, 2007, to maintain and increase their position in MS-13, an international gang with roots in El Salvador and a strong presence in Queens and on Long Island."Prosecutors said.On a night when gang members decided to go hunting for a victim on the streets of Queens, Maurice Parker was murdered simply for standing in the wrong place at the wrong time," said U.S. Attorney Benton Campbell. "These gangs have no place in our communities."Fuentes, whom prosecutors described as the New York gang leader in a press release, was wheeled into his arraignment handcuffed to a wheelchair, slumped over and appearing disheveled. Prosecutors said he had resisted coming to court, but Fuentes said he wanted to represent himself and plead guilty."I make my choice, your honor," he told Judge Sandra Townes. "If I make something wrong, something illegal, I want to pay for it."Fuentes' lawyer, Michael Hurwitz, questioned his client's competence and asked for a psychiatric exam. Townes refused to accept the guilty plea, entering not-guilty on his behalf, and persuaded him to allow Hurwitz and a court-appointed death-penalty specialist to represent him until the Justice Department decides if it is going to seek his execution.Both Fuentes and Chavez, who will be arraigned later, have been imprisoned since last year. Hurwitz said Fuentes has been facing a gun charge and he has also been pushing to plead guilty on that count.Prosecutors said Parker was shot six times, including three times in the head, by Chavez and another unnamed gang member while Fuentes was driving them.Parker's mother and other family members were in court Thursday. They declined to comment, but a family adviser, the Rev. Nicholas Tweed of the Macedonia AME Church in Flushing, said, "I'm not in favor of the death penalty, and neither is the mother."

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